What Holds Us Together: Terumah 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How is the construction of a building an effective metaphor for the construction of society? What are the essential foundations and building blocks of a healthy community?

Amidst the myriad of details the Torah provides for the dimensions of the Tabernacle, we can draw lessons from even the most specific instructions:

The Pitch: “Of the planks of the Tabernacle, make twenty planks on the south side.” – Exodus 26:18

Swing #1: “The Hebrew word KeReSH (‘board’) spells SHeKeR (‘falsehood’) in reverse. In other words, if you succeed in ‘reversing’ falsehood you will achieve the highest level of holiness – you will be worthy of becoming a part of the Sanctuary.” – Noam Elimelekh

Swing #2: “The fact that there are to be twenty frames on each side and six plus two corner frames at the rear of the structure indicates its overall rectangular shape. Yet, because the thickness of the frames and the way they are to be fitted together remains obscure, the overall dimensions of the structure remain approximate. For two millennia, many have tried, with little unanimity, to ascertain its size and shape.” – Carol Meyers, Exodus

Swing #3: “The traditional shoebox-shaped tent would have to have perfectly vertical walls in order to be aesthetically pleasing. … If the structure tilted to one side or the other, the whole tent would look like a shanty. It would be not only ugly but seem to be the work of foolish or inept builders. This is hardly what one wants for the holy abode of God. … If, as I suspect, there were bars going across the top that connected the frames of the north side to those of the south side, the structure would be more stable than one with vertical walls, and there would be no danger that the whole thing would lean to one side or the other.” – Duane A. Garrett, A Commentary on Exodus

Late-Inning Questions: How do our commentators’ thoughts parallel lessons applicable to modern dilemmas? In what ways must we, to quote Noam Elimelekh, reverse falsehood in the information we receive? In what ways is a secure structure of a building similar to the security we need in our society? How can these lessons inform our response this week’s abhorrent murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida? What will it take for us to realize that we need to reverse the false narratives of the NRA and pass common-sense gun-safety laws for the sake of our security?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Synagogue Emanu-El is excited to welcome Shalom Orzach, a senior educator and consultant for the iCenter. Shalom will speak after dinner of our FNL Friday, February 16th on the topic “The ‘State’ of the Jews”. On Saturday, February 17th, Shalom will lead Danish & D’rash at 9:00AM and also will deliver the sermon at Shabbat morning services on the topic “Belonging or Believing”. Please join us for an enlightening scholar-in-residence weekend!

The Big Inning at the End: Am I excited about the Cubs’ new pitcher? “Yu” bet!

Shabbat Shalom!